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Old Woman Mountains Wilderness

General Location Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images
An empty blue sky over a rocky desert ridge, topped by rock pinnacles, and dotted with green brush.
Library image #1510: Old Woman Statue from east

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the Old Woman Mountains Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 163,731 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Description

This wilderness area consists of bajadas; extensive flat aprons of alluvium; and the massive, fault-lifted Old Woman Mountains that extend some 35 miles north-south and up to 28 miles in an east-west direction. The elevations within the wilderness extend from 800 feet in the drainage bottoms to over 5300 feet at the top Old Woman Peak. The mountains take their name from a granite monolith resembling the figure of an old woman, known as the Old Woman Statue (5,000 feet high). The Old Woman Mountains were the discovery site of the Old Woman Meteorite. This meteorite was discovered in 1975 and is the largest meteorite found in California and the second largest in the United States. The meteorite was on display at the Smithsonian Institute from 1978 to 1980 and is now on permanent display at the Desert Information Center in Barstow, California. The Old Woman Mountains Wilderness falls within a transition zone between the Lower Colorado and Mojave deserts and encompasses many different habitat types. Creosote bush scrub dominates the lower elevations, grading into mixed desert scrub at middle elevations with juniper-pinyon woodland at the higher elevations. The dry washes are characterized by catclaw acacia, cheesebush, desert lavender, little-leaf ratany, and desert almond. Wildlife is typical for the Mojave Desert; including a permanent population of bighorn sheep, mule deer, bobcat, cougar, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbit, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, chuckar, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards. Numerous raptor species are likely to be found in the area; including prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, Cooper's hawks, American kestrels, as well as several speices of owls. The washes and canyons provide good habitat for several species of songbirds, and the bird densities and diversity is further enhanced by the presence of the known 24 springs and seeps. The bajadas provide excellent desert tortoise habitat; 49,683 acres of the wilderness area have been identified as critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.

Planning to Visit the Old Woman Mountains Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Old Woman Mountains Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.



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